Welcome to part two of our 2021
Handmade Bicycle Show Australia coverage. Here we’ll continue to display the bikes of the Australian custom scene, and hopefully give you a glimpse into this innovative and skilful community of builders.
The Handmade Bicycle Show Australia is as much a gathering of friends as it is a display of wares. And while Australia may be extremely large in size, there’s a closeness between the builders that has lead to some wonderful collaboration and sharing of knowledge. And it’s this sense of community that has arguably made Australia so competitive in the global bike building scene.
In this second of four galleries, we’ll look at bikes from
Prova Cycles, Sugarloaf Cycles, Woods Bicycle Co, Trinity MTB, Vechter, and Lyrebird Cycles. It’s sure to be a good one. You can see all past and present coverage from HBSA here.
Sugarloaf Cycles is a fresh, Australian-made custom carbon brand out of Brisbane. Steve George is behind the brand and has a wealth of experience in the custom bike scene through his former store Crankstar Bespoke. Sugarloaf has been a few years in the making but officially launched at the start of this year. Pictured is George’s own bike. Sugarloaf frames are constructed with custom filament-wound tubes that are made in Sydney, which are then wrapped at the joins (tube-to-tube technique). “Handbuilt bikes have been a passion for me for a long long time,” George said. “I’ve always been drawn to every material in different aspects, but for me when it came time to launch my product I was drawn to carbon.” Almost all of the frame components are sourced from within Australia. The dropouts are 3D-printed carbon composite. The seatmast topper is 3D-printed titanium, produced by Bastion. Even the bidon cage bolts are Australian-made. Prototipo supplies these and their bolts were found on the vast majority of bikes at the Handmade show. “ What is Sugarloaf? “For me, there’s a Sugarloaf Mountain everywhere,” George said. “In a previous life I was lucky enough to race my bike and everywhere we went there were a lot of places with a Sugarloaf mountain or Sugarloaf reservoir.” Steve George is doing the framebuilding himself, while the paint is done locally by Carbon Steed. Sugarloaf is open for business. Pricing for a frame module (includes custom geometry, a Chris King headset, Enve fork, and titanium seatpost topper) starts from AU$8,700. Woods Bicycle Co is the creation of the Woods brothers (Josh and Zac) based near Byron Bay. They specialise in custom steel frames in an unexpected combination of both BMX and road. They’ve just started creating gravel frames, too. This display bike belongs to a customer and was built with crit racing and all-around road riding in mind. This bike is using the relatively new (and light) Columbus Cento tube set. Woods’ BMX bikes have already formed a strong following and the brand clearly knows how to make a nice-looking road bike, too. Builder Zac Woods is a boilermaker by trade. He TIG-welds most of his frames, but there are some stylistic joining details to be found here, too. Zac wasn’t at the show due to just having twins. Congrats, Zac! The head badges are made in-house. Earlier frames left these looking raw, but Woods now give them a high polish.
Trinity MTB is a fresh gravity-focussed bike manufacturer with some interesting concepts. This is the brand’s first bike and it’s a prototype that’s designed to figure out the high pivot suspension layout and dial in the geometry. You can learn more about this new machine from Trinity MTB over on Pinkbike. There’s a whole lot going on in this shot. In a nutshell, it features a modular bottom bracket area so that it can be run with a regular crank or an internal gearbox. The suspension design is about creating a rearward axle path for better momentum.
Vechter Bikes is a new Melbourne-based fixie/track brand that’s offering a unique aluminium frame. There’s a number of pretty high-end details, made all the more impressive by the low AU$899 price tag for a frameset. Of course, hitting such a price does mean the frames are made in Taiwan. Up front sits a tapered head tube and a full carbon fork. Frames are available in black or teal and in four frame sizes. The tube shapes are angular and designed to add appropriate stiffness to the bike that’s likely to see some high power figures. Reinforced and protected dropouts sit at the back.
Lyrebird Cycles is the creation of Mark Kelly who resides in Beechworth, a town within Victoria’s High Country. I first met Kelly a number of years back at the old Fyxo Melburn bike show and have been intrigued by his work since. “I didn’t set out to make a wooden bike; I set out to make an acoustic bike,” Kelly explained. “The construction method comes from that. I set out to make a bike with a particular ride quality. I have a theory that ride quality is a signal-to-noise ratio thing. There’s the signal – stuff you want; being able to feel what the bike is doing. And then there’s noise.” “One of my favourite woods is Myrtle Beech (aka Nothofagus cunninghamii), a favourite habitat of the Lyrebird. The whole idea of the bikes is based on acoustics, and the Lyrebird is the largest and most complex songbird on the planet. The name just suggested itself.” The construction method is extremely interesting. “I start with strips of wood and wind them on a mandrel to make a tube-former,” Kelly said. “I then filament wind very high-strength carbon fibre on the outside of the former tube. Then I start adding strips of wood and more carbon to achieve the structural properties I want. That’s it in a nutshell.” Kelly suggests that producing a frame takes some 300 hours. More impressively, the frame building is somewhat of a side gig as Kelly is a winemaker and also owns No Relation Ginger Beer Company. That name is rather funny if you know Australia’s criminal bushranger history. This all-road disc frame was actually created as a test bike for yours truly. Kelly admits there were a few mistakes made and so I’ll have to wait a little longer to feel how it rides. Kelly has such an interesting perspective on ride quality that we’ll be looking to get him onto a Nerd Alert podcast in the near future. Also, we’ll soon have a short video interview with him, captured at the show.
Mark Hester of Prova Cycles has only been on the custom bike scene for a few years but has fast become one of the world’s most exciting builders to watch. His Speciale road bike combines a number of his skillsets and includes 3D-printed titanium components that help merge carbon fibre and titanium tubes. Prova’s Mostro gravel bike was one of the first I saw to make use of mountain bike geometry principles. I sat down with Hester prior to the show to chat about all things gravel bike geometry, a conversation that’ll be uploaded to the CyclingTips Nerd Alert podcast channel in the coming few weeks. Here’s something a little different. Hester recently built himself this belt-drive gearbox-equipped titanium bike as a testbed for a number of concepts. When asked what it’s called, Hester said “Dunno”. Seems like a fitting name. Wax or drip lube? It doesn’t matter here. The bike is built around a Pinion C1.12 12-speed gearbox that offers an impressive 600% overall ratio. That gearbox is mounted into a custom titanium 3D-printed junction. Here’s a cutaway sample of the mount. Prova Cycles shares a building with Bastion Cycles. Hester’s workshop is literally a few steps away from two in-house 3D metal printers. Belt drives require a split in the frame. Hester’s approach is said to lock the seat stay and dropout together in a way that puts almost no stress on the holding bolt. Not only is this method stronger and stiffer, it also won’t suffer from a self-loosening bolt. The BMX-styled handlebar gives this bike a fun and unique look. Somewhat ironically, the bar is an unreleased carbon fibre model from Mone who are really known for their brazed steelwork. The bar really does make this bike look like a big BMX. It’s a BMX I truly want to ride. Love a good titanium match. It was two years ago that the world lost Damion Drapac in a tragic accident. Hester was commissioned by the Drapac family to create trophy framesets for the A-grade winners of the Anzac Day Classic in memory of Damion. The bike shown here is as a demonstration frame and belongs to the Drapac family. These commemorative trophy bikes are built on Prova’s most traditional steel road offering – the Razzo. Paint is by Velocraft, which lives under the same roof as Prova. The Razzo features Hester’s own seat binder and dropout designs, printed in stainless steel. The head badge is stainless steel, brazed on before welding. The Chris King headset is hand polished to match. The DT Swiss hubs were custom polished by Dan of Superbe Velo Service, who was responsible for the build of the bike. They feature “Duda” (Damion’s nickname) etched into them. The dropouts are Prova’s own design. The paint is a match with what Damion rode when racing for the Drapac Cycling team. Duda is hand-cut in stainless steel and silver brazed onto the frame before paint. The Drapac family has set up a foundation for medical education in Damion’s name.
Note: Some images show close crowds of people who aren’t wearing masks. This is in line with local regulations – Victoria had no community cases of COVID-19 at the time of the show.